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A traditional ironmonger shop. SUR
The chores of defeat

The chores of defeat

These days, finding an ironmongers requires a forty minute trek through a labyrinth of ice cream parlours, cocktail bars and Mexican restaurants to get to the outskirts of town where the strangely comforting hand-written, misspelt signs and dusty tools are hanging behind the shop window

Peter Edgerton / www.peteredgerton.com

Friday, 31 March 2023, 12:06

Opciones para compartir

I'd been putting it off for months, but this was a tedious household chore I was determined to get done this very week.

First off, I was going to need a saw for cutting metal which, in the days that Malaga was a proper city for proper people, would have meant simply nipping to one of the three or four local ironmongers scattered around the centre. These days it requires a forty minute trek through a labyrinth of ice cream parlours, cocktail bars and Mexican restaurants to get to the outskirts of town where the strangely comforting hand-written, misspelt signs and dusty tools hanging behind the shop window bring a nostalgic tear to the eye and a spring to the weariest of steps.

Given that, all around the world, ironmongers have their own language and a nod-and-a-wink code only decipherable to middle-aged blokes with pencils behind their ears, I'd rehearsed my request to within an inch of its life beforehand.

'Good afternoon. I'd like a saw for cutting metal, please.'

The chap behind the counter eyed me with an air of suspicion more appropriate to having been asked for a spot of Semtex and some fuse wire by a man with a ticking rucksack.

'What's it for?'

It was impossible to answer his question without sounding like I'd just returned from a three month intensive sarcasm course.

'Well, cutting some metal, really.'

From the corner of my eye I could sense two other customers, possibly with pencils behind their ears, turn in my direction, friendly vibes not forthcoming.

The shop owner pressed on.

'What is it exactly that you want to cut?'

Studiously avoiding the temptation to splutter 'Well, by now, my wrists, actually,' I pointed to the nearest piece of metal available and said 'Something like that,' although, in all truth, it was absolutely nothing like that.

The man looked me up and down again before shuffling off for what seemed like half an hour while the customers continued to stare at me in silence. Eventually our man emerged with a saw and a varied selection of cobwebs which he blew away with a well-practised air of nonchalance.

'Thank you, how much is that?'

He could have said any random amount by this point but, in the event, it was a very specific seven euros seventy five cents, which I proffered just a bit too eagerly, I think.

'Thank you then, goodbye.'

Not waiting for a reply, I pegged it back through the ice cream parlours and the Mexicans, caught a bus over to my house, ran upstairs, cut some metal in a fevered frenzy and had the job I'd been putting off for months all done and dusted in forty minutes.

A voice in my head said 'That wasn't so hard, was it?'

Oh, but it was, it really was.

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